To Be Known – 4-17-24

You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday’s gospel reading is here

In his conversation about shepherding, Jesus highlights an important quality of a “Good Shepherd” – she knows her sheep. In contrast to a hired hand, who might only know the number of sheep he’s to keep track of, the good shepherd knows the sheep individually, knows what each looks like, its characteristics, which ones follow well, which ones are inclined to wander, which ones are more vulnerable.

Jesus doesn’t discuss this quality in the abstract; he makes it personal:

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”  

Being known – it is perhaps the richest, most intimate experience a person can have. (Is that why ancient Hebrew texts use the verb “know” to suggest sexual encounters?) To be known means we have been seen, and studied; been deemed worthy of time and attention. The one who knows us has weighed our strengths and shortcomings. Being known does not imply being loved, but one often follows the other (and not always in the same order).

That we are known individually by the God who made us, who doesn’t just lump us all together as “humankind” but treasures the particularity and specificity of each one of us, is a radical reality. Yes, God cares about communities, and yes, an over-emphasis on “just me and my Jesus” can imperil the integrity of our spiritual life. Yet the personal, relational dimension to Christian faith is undeniably present in the bible, and life-changing when we acknowledge it.

As intimately as the Father and the Son and the Spirit know each other – they who are distinct, yet One – that’s how closely Jesus knows us, our dreams and longings, our disappointments and losses, our passions and foibles, those shadow parts of ourselves we loathe, as well as what we treasure. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us without reservation or condition.

The question is: Will we let him in? Will we open ourselves to this one who already knows us? Will we take the time to get to know this Good Shepherd?

“I know my own and my own know me” begs an interesting question: Maybe it’s not whether or not Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but whether we consider ourselves his sheep.

The choice is always ours – his offer of relationship is always extended. Maybe we should come to know him as he already knows us.

© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereHere are the bible readings for next Sunday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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